There are lots of great Christmas one-liners. What’s your favorite? Is it…
“You’ll shoot your eye out”?
“Every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings”?
“His heart grew three sizes that day”?
“Smiling’s my favorite”?
Some favorite lines from the classic Charlie Brown Christmas are actually from the Bible. (We looked at this passage yesterday, but there’s plenty of food for thought for several days.) In this speech in Charlie Brown Christmas, an angel appears to shepherds “…and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’” (Luke 2:9-12, NIV)
Good news of great joy for all people–I’ve heard that line over and over again.
“Good news” here is the word “Gospel.” The angel brings the Gospel that will cause great joy for all the people.
Or at least, that’s what the angel tried to bring. I’m not sure it’s worked out that way.
The Gospel, the good news of Jesus’ birth, has not always brought joy to all people. Wars have been fought, meaning people have been killed, in the name of the Gospel. The Gospel has been used to justify slavery or abuse. Many times, Christians have “shared the Gospel” in ways that have been hurtful, judgmental, condemning, and harsh. At times, Christians have acted and talked as if the Gospel were only for them, and not those people, certainly not all people.
But none of that is what was intended. The angel came to bring good news of great joy for all the people.
The story of Jesus is supposed to be good news, not bad news. Which has it been for you?
The story of Jesus is supposed to bring great joy, not shame or indifference. What has it brought you?
The story of Jesus is supposed to be for all people, not the elite or entitled or righteous. Has it been for you?
This Christmas, I pray that regardless of whatever hateful or hurtful news you’ve heard about Jesus, you hear the GOOD news about him. Whether you’ve been made to feel ashamed, worthless, or beyond redemption by Christians, I pray that this Christmas you experience the joy God intends.
Jesus is for you! The Gospel is for you! You don’t have to be perfect. Your race doesn’t matter. Your past doesn’t matter. Neither does your education nor your salary nor your home nor your family. It doesn’t matter if you’ve grown up in church, walked away from church, or walked out of church. Jesus is for all people; Jesus is for YOU!
GOOD news of great JOY for ALL people–That’s what Christmas is all about. That’s a line worth remembering.